May 31, 2018 · 8:00 pm
Friends, I have not been keeping up with my blogging. I apologise. Life in my day job has been challenging this last year, but change is coming and perhaps we will see more of each other in the not-too-distant. This not keeping up means I have crafting projects that happened some time ago that you have never seen. Here is one of those projects.
This post is part of the Tuff Socks Naturally project, an open, collaborative project exploring more sustainable alternatives to superwash and nylon in sock yarn. You can join in on the discussion on this blog or on the blog of the fabulous Rebecca at Needle and Spindle or on instagram using the hashtag #tuffsocksnaturally.
I am still working with Suffolk fleece, and I have been really keen to dye some with indigo. I finally gathered up my nerve and tried refreshing my indigo vat over a long weekend. And, success!!! In order to conserve dye and because the Suffolk is robust, full of vegetable matter, dirty even after washing, and hard to felt, I decided to flick card the locks prior to dyeing. That is what you can see in the top image. When I was able to achieve that deep blue in the picture above (the photo colour is not perfect–but this is NOT pastel blue), I felt no regrets.
Then, to the drum carder. No felting at all despite the challenging-to-wool alkaline environment of the vat followed by a lot of rinsing. Now the image below shows the colour most accurately. Colour me extremely happy about this yarn.
My previous sock spinning efforts had persuaded me that I was not getting enough ply twist to create a robust sock yarn. When I bought my spinning wheel, I decided to invest in a high speed head as well as two interchangeable whorls. I was experiencing confidence that I would be spinning well into my future and want to use the wheel to its maximum capacity. Since then, the place I bought that wheel, then the only spinning wheel seller in the city outside my Guild (which sells second hand) has closed. I’ve used everything that came with the wheel with only one exception, so that was a good call. Now to use the last accessory: the high speed head that would make it easier to get serious amounts of twist into my yarn even on evenings of weary spinning and distracted plying.
Well, here is that yarn all wound up and ready to knit, waiting its turn in the knitting queue! Just between me and you… as I write it has made it onto the needles and I’ve had the all-important conversation with a recipient who feels no reservation about this not-Merino-soft, local, plant dyed, single breed yarn. Over a hot chocolate and chat tonight she took one look, squeezed the sock-in-progress and said YES!
May 24, 2018 · 10:18 am
Trying to be thoughtful about sock yarns in a period where I knit socks constantly and quite quickly has led to all manner of interesting insights. This post introduces another. At present it is not an option for me to leave home without a sock in progress. I’m spending a lot of time on public transport–which is good, but requires management. I go to a lot of meetings and presentations–which is sometimes good and sometimes challenging. Socks help me!
The tuffsocksnaturally project has been one great outcome of trying to move in an eco-friendly direction–and I have sock yarn spinning to show! However, creating sock yarn involves slowly spinning (I can’t take that on the bus!), dyeing, washing and converting skeins to balls. All of which is pleasurable time spent but certainly does take time. In the case of my Suffolk adventures, I also need to be confident the intended recipient will enjoy and be able to comfortably wear the resulting socks, which requires some chat. BUT: if there is some point where I do not have a handspun sock ready to knit and I reach the end of my current pair–I need a plan!
A while back, I went to a two day meeting in Parramatta, which is now part of greater Sydney. The tree and the sculpture are images from my roaming around in the few daylight hours I had outside a meeting there. As I prepared to leave for an entire two days of meeting, with airport waiting, airtrain trips, waiting in train stations, and who knows what kind of night in a hotel, I ran out of sock yarn. So I decided to knit leftover yarns in the same colour family into socks. Yes, dear Readers, I am blessed with friends who have said to me “just knit up whatever you’ve got! I’m not bothered if you use up your scraps” or, when I asked another friend if he fancied socks that were knit this way, said that sounded like fun. To me this sounded a lot more attractive as a knitting project than some of the patterns I see popping up from time to time directed at people like me who have knit a lot of socks and have leftover sock yarns (some of which go to the recipient so they can darn in the future but some of which stay with me).
And that is how one of my friends came to get these socks, which were received with a squeak of glee!
May 15, 2018 · 10:47 am
These are the results of my last day of dyeing, dried and ironed and ready for use. Some have already gone to new happy homes and the one at top right has become a pocket!
May 4, 2018 · 5:32 pm
There has been some spinning going on in the evenings. As I prepare Suffolk fleece for spinning, I’ve been spinning yarn for #tuffsocksnaturally. The top image is one of the recent skeins with more ply twist than previously. However, there has also been some regular spinning. Below, the fleece of a lawn mowing pet sheep who might be a Polwarth–the sheep belongs to a friend of a friend and the fleece is rather soft and lovely, while my preparation lacked some care and made it harder to spin than it might have been. I find it really hard to wash very dirty, very greasy fleece effectively, always ending up with more sticky grease and filth than I can readily enjoy, or somewhat felted fleece that has been very much handled and rinsed a great deal! I’m wondering now what it is to become. Honour its softness and make hats? Make cushy slippers for a friend who has requested slippers that I have not yet been able to knit? Spoiled for choices, that’s me.
Filed under Spinning
Tagged as polwarth, Suffolk, wool
May 1, 2018 · 5:36 pm
You probably remember the last pair of Kit Couture Garpen Socks–not so long ago! There was quite a bit of wool left over. So I decided I could surely make a second pair (and pulled out my scales just to check). here I am at the railway station on my way to work with a cunning plan (also, a pair of socks to post, lunch and a chia pudding in a vegemite jar–I love a good plan).
Here I am making headway on a night train.
Then came the sudden realisation (in a day long meeting) that, in fact, these socks were not going to match at all. I’d like to pretend this was a decision I made, but it was not. At this point I decided it would not be OK to rip out in a meeting, and quite frankly, I didn’t fancy ripping out anyway and–I quite like them. Though that is the self serving attitude, I admit!
And here they are in all their glory…
Mismatched or glorious?
Filed under Knitting
Tagged as gifts, socks, wool